Sunday, September 30, 2012

Book Review: Redshirts by John Scalzi & Tales from Super-Science Fiction by ed. Silverberg

Two recent releases offer great escapism from reality, whisking the reader away to strange planets and unusual adventures.

    "Redshirts" (Tor, $24.99) by Hugo Award-winning author John Scalzi, is a fast-paced, funny tale that's set in the 25th century.

     It introduces Ensign Andrew Dahl, who's just been assigned to the Universal Union Central Capital Ship Intrepid.

     All seems well at first, until Dahl realizes that there's a problem - every time there's an Away Mission, it involves lethal confrontation with alien forces.

     He catches on to a few other inconsistencies - three of the Starship's officers on the missions always survive and one low-ranking crew member (or more) inevitably is killed.

     Dahl goes on an Away Mission and survives; but many of his suspicions are confirmed. Dahl faces more challenges as he tries to convince other crew members that something is definitely wrong.

     If you're thinking that this is a take-off on the plots from the old Star Trek television series - you're absolutely right! But Scalzi does it in a quite humorous way, with a variety of unpredictable plot twists.

     Scalzi, author of the best-selling "Old Man's War" series, "Fuzzy Nation" and other science fiction novels, adds three additional codas to the volume, which add more insights and a satisfying conclusion.

     "Tales from Super-Science Fiction",  (Haffner Press, $32) edited by Robert Silverberg, is an intriguing collection of imaginative short stories that originally were published in the magazine from 1956 to 1959.
     It features a brief informative introduction to the history of the publication, including insights involving Harlan Ellison and its amiable, experienced editor, R.R. Scott.

     Silverberg's selections showcase a variety of interests, from bug-eyed aliens to early spaceflight and creepy monsters. He offers 14 stories by a wide assortment of authors, including many names that are easily recognizable by loyal genre readers.

     "Catch 'Em All Alive" by Silverberg focuses on a planetary exploration team from Earth and unusual discoveries. Robert Bloch's "Broomstick Ride" explores the usage of witchcraft on a planet while Jack Vance offers "Worlds of Origin", an excellent Magnus Ridolph tale.

     There's great cover art by Kelly Freas as well as black and white interior graphics by Ed Emshwiller and others.

     Silverberg, who's won numerous Hugo and Nebula awards, has masterfully edited a great collection of short stories that's ideal for dedicated science fiction fans.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop, has reviewed books regularly since 1987. 

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on Sunday, September 30, 2012.



Sunday, September 23, 2012

Three Great Mysteries to Enjoy

Quirky characters and unexpected situations abound in three entertaining recent crime novels.

    "Whiplash River" by Lou Berney (William Morrow, $14.99) is an oddball, oversized paperback that showcases former mob getaway driver Charles "Shake" Bouchon, star of "Gutshot Straight".

    Now living in Belize, Bouchon is trying to make a living running his own restaurant. He runs into real problems when he gets into debt with a nasty local drug dealer.

    His challenges intensify when two freelance assassins appear; a beautiful FBI agent is on his trail, too. When Shake's restaurant explodes in flames, he goes for help to Quinn, a mysterious elderly customer.

    Tensions mount, Shake doesn't realize what dangerous situations lie ahead. With strong characterization and fast pacing, Berney has created an unusual tale set mostly in foreign countries, where justice is swift and deadly.

    "The 13th Target" by Mark DeCastrique (Poisoned Pen Press, $24.95) introduces Russell Mullins, a former secret service agent who's hired by a Washington DC private protection agency.

    "Murder on the Half Shelf" by Lorna Barrett (Berkley Prime Crime, $24.95) is the latest in her enjoyable, cozy, Booktown Mystery series set in Stoneham, N.H.

    Amateur sleuth and mystery bookshop owner Tricia Miles gets into a lot of trouble, as expected. She comes across a dead body during an overnight preview stay at a new bed and breakfast inn in town.

    The prime suspect is Harry Tyler, a former lover of Miles who's been believed dead for nearly 20 years. There are other usual and unusual suspects; Miles goes all out to uncover the real killer.

    Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop, 
has reviewed crime novels and Michigan books regularly since 1987.

This review was originally published by the 
Lansing State Journal on Sunday, September 16, 2012.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Curiosities - September 2012 Newsletter

Greetings from Curious, Book Lover!

You'll find great deals on hard-to-find books on ALL THREE FLOORS of our shop, this month!
Save big in September with our new monthly sale - - 30% OFF these sections:

Upstairs: 30% OFF Movie Stuff (Film Histories, Scripts, Posters, Celebrity Biographies and more!)
Main Floor: 30% OFF CookbooksPolitical Science, Gender Studies & Sexuality,Romance & Paranormal Romance
Downstairs: 30% OFF ReligionEducation and Reference

Remember: With a purchase, we'll validate your parking for City of East Lansing lots and ramps.

New Acquisitions:

Our shelves are freshly stuffed with fabulous novels - classics and recent bestsellers at half the price! 
You can also pick up new copies of the latest bestsellers at Curious. 

Notable acquisitions include a selection of Native American histories; science fiction & fantasy;
poetry & novels by Michigan writers; New Age books on astrology, yoga, the occult, dreams and reiki healing;
beautifully illustrated stories for children; biographies; nature guides; Big Little Books; vintage comics and more!

Give yourself goosebumps with our wide selection of affordable horror novels by Brian Lumley, Stephen King 
and Dean Koontz, or paranormal romance novels by Laurell K. Hamilton, Charlaine Harris and  Sherrilyn Kenyon!

Classic MSU and UofM football programs from the 1930s - 1990s are available in our sports department.
Stop in for a visit on an MSU game day for a bit of Green & White nostalgia.

Shop News & Gossip:

It's election season, and you can educate yourself while you browse our aisles!
Visit Curious this month and see some of our most unusual political items from local and national elections.
We have vintage political campaign posters, stickers, pins and more on display - some dating from the 1800s.
George Romney, Rockefeller, Goldwater, Humphrey, Chamberlain and other 19th and  20th century American leaders are represented.
Stop in soon and experience our political time warp, right in downtown East Lansing.

"A vote is like a rifle; its usefulness depends upon the character of the user." - Theodore Roosevelt

It was a beautiful summer in East Lansing, full of interesting customers and unusual books.

Ray was on the road for the better part of August. He took part in book and comic shows,
including Pulpfest (in Columbus, Ohio) and the Chicago Antiquarian Book Show. 
Over Labor Day weekendRay went to Chicago again, for the 70th World Science Fiction Convention!
Stop in soon to see some of the goodies he brought home.

Have you ever been to a book show? Here's your chance!

The Midwest's LARGEST antiquarian book and paper show is coming to Lansing.
Join us on Sunday, October 7 for the 
56th Michigan Antiquarian Book and Paper Show
at the Lansing Center (333 E. Michigan Avenue).
Admission is $4.50 (Children 13 and under are free!)

Collectable First Editions, Michigan History items, Maps, 
Postcards, Original Art, Sheet Music, Rare Books, Children's Books, 
Photographs, Classic Science Fiction, Mysteries, Ephemera, 
Michigan History Items, Civil War & Military History and SO MUCH MORE 
will be on display and for sale at this fabulous show.

Item prices may range from 50 cents to $50,000, 
and there's something for everyone, no matter your interests!

Please visit the Curious Book Shop to pick up a show flyer.

Ray's book buying hours will be limited in the coming weeks.
Please call ahead before bringing in books to sell or trade!  (517) 332 - 0112

You can find Ray's weekly book reviews on our blog,
or in the Sunday edition of the Lansing State Journal!

Literary and Community Events:

The Kerrytown Bookfest is Sunday, September 9 in Ann Arbor.
This literary festival is fun for the whole family, and features
local authors, bookbinders, publishers, booksellers, librarians and more.
Find out more:

The 56th Michigan Antiquarian Book & Paper Show
is coming to downtown Lansing on Sunday, October 7th!
Find kindred spirits at this gathering of book and paper lovers
and browse through over one million items from the past few centuries.

Show webpage:

Are you interested in exhibiting at the show? 
We have a limited amount of space left.
Please contact Ruth at (517) 332-0123

Literary Birthdays & Events:

Sept. 1: Edgar Rice Burroughs
Sept. 2: Eugene Field
Sept. 3: Sarah Orne Jewett
Sept. 4: Richard Wright
Sept. 7: F. Scott Fitzgerald meets Zelda Sayre at a country club dance, in Alabama in 1918
Sept. 8: Ann Beattie
Sept. 9: Leo Tolstoy 
Sept. 11: D.H. Lawrence, O. Henry
Sept. 12: H.L. Mencken
Sept. 13: Roald Dahl, Sherwood Anderson
Sept. 15: James Fenimore Cooper, Agatha Christie
Sept. 17: Mary Stewart, Ken Kesey, William Carlos Williams
Sept. 18: Dr. Samuel Johnson
Sept. 19: Arthur Rackam, William Golding
Sept. 20: Upton Sinclair, Daniel Defoe
Sept. 21: H.G. Wells, Stephen King
Sept. 23: Euripides, Edgar Lee Masters
Sept. 24: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Sept. 25: William Faulkner, bell hooks
Sept. 26: T.S. Eliot
Sept. 28: Kate Douglas Wiggins
Sept. 29: Miguel de Cervantes, Elizabeth Gaskell, Stan Berenstain
Sept. 30: Truman Capote

“The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. 

She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. 

She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. 

She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village."  

- Roald Dahl, Matilda

Our current shop hours are 
Monday - Saturday, 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Sundays Noon - 5 p.m.

If there's a specific book you're looking for, please let us know!
We'd be happy to keep your request on file or do a special order.

What do you think of, when you think of Curious?
We want to hear about your fond memories of time spent at the shop!
Email us, and your reminisces may be featured in a forthcoming book about the shop.

Thank you for your continued support our independent book shop and local book-related events. 

This fall, we'll celebrate our 43rd anniversary.

Many thanks, 
Ray, Audrey and the the Curious Gang

If you would like to receive this monthly newsletter in your inbox, please email us.


Curious Book Shop

307 East Grand River
East Lansing, MI  48823
(517) 332-0112


Book Review: "From Italy to America with Love" by Mina Greco Hall and John R. Hall

Mina Greco Hall and John R. Hall, Ph.D. will be signing books on Friday Sept. 14 at 6 p.m. at Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 5132 W. Saginaw (Lansing Mall), Lansing.
"From Italy to America with Love" by local authors Mina Greco Hall and John R. Hall Ph.D. (Xlibris, $19.99) is an intriguing self-published autobiography.
The attractively designed book focuses on the life and unusual experiences of a highly talented, award-winning artist who has faced a variety of challenging situations.
Mina grew up in war-torn Italy during World War II, with her parents and siblings surviving bombings and a naval torpedo attack at Taranto.
She suffered through devastation and death, disasters and rationing; the family moved to to another smaller town for safety.
As a budding artist, Mina had numerous interesting learning experiences; she also had a strange, unsettling, exasperating relationship with a boyfriend named Fabio, which lasted for decades.
Mina discloses some spooky situations that took place in a local cemetery, enough to make almost anyone wonder about the afterlife.
Soon, she moved to Milan, expanding her artistic endeavors. Her parents shortly followed, getting into the flower business.
Mina and Fabio parted ways, but soon Fabio got married. His later separation and persistence caused Mina more emotional duress.
Eventually Mina joined other family members in relocating to America in 1962; initially, she notes "Lansing seemed to be a village compared to the metropolis they had left."
In addition to learning a new language, (complete with assorted odd idioms) she also had to get used to the area's geographical layout and different weather.
She became involved with the local art scene, joining the Lansing Art Guild and the Lansing Art Gallery. She details the unusual way that she met her husband, who was then a student at Michigan State University.
The rest of the book explores her marriage, her love of America and her appreciation of her Italian heritage. She relates a wide assortment of artistic experiences, adding many touches of humor.
Mina Greco Hall has exhibited her artwork in several Italian cities as well as the Louvre in Paris. She paints abstracts as well as realistic styles and teaches in her Lansing studio.
In 2011, her painting Enigma won first prize in the People's Choice competition sponsored by the Lansing Art Gallery.
Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop, 
has reviewed Michigan books and crime novels regularly since 1987.

This review was originally published by 
the Lansing State Journal on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Book Review: Bonnie Bucqueroux's Speaking of Murder

Mason area author Bonnie Bucqueroux's new paperback book is only 120 pages long but it packs a powerful punch.

        "Speaking of Murder" (Crime News Press, $5.95) is subtitled "Media Autopsies of Famous Crime Cases."  It deals with an unusual subject, examining the sensationalized treatment of major crime cases by an assortment of different media.

        Although it's heavily footnoted and includes a detailed index, this isn't your ordinary textbook - it's a fascinating book that can be enjoyed by the average reader who has an interest in true crime cases.
        It focuses on three major crimes that received extensive coverage by the press involving Fatty Arbuckle, Kitty Genovese and Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood."

        Bucqueroux examines the press treatment of Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, accused in 1921 of assaulting Virginia Rappe, who died four days later.

        Arbuckle, one of the world's best loved and highly paid comedians, was put under an intense media spotlight and stood trial three times for the crime.

        In an age with no scandal magazines, entertainment television shows or computer networks, newspapers received significant attention.

        Media frenzy in the 1920's was incredible, with slanted banner headlines and biased news stories about the case abounding.

        The author systematically details flaws in reporting and the tendency to exaggerate unsupported facts; journalistic ethics are deeply probed.

        In March 1964, 28-year-old Kitty Genovese was brutally raped and stabbed to death near her Queens, N.Y. apartment by a stranger.

        A New York Times newspaper reporter discovered that there were 38 witnesses who heard her screams during the half-hour attack but did virtually nothing.

        The author, who carefully examines the extensive coverage of the case, details the assorted social and legal issues involved.

        The last section of the book is devoted to the horrifying 1964 murder case in Kansas where four members of a family were brutally murdered.

        Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood" was released as a "non-fiction novel" which dealt with the horrific case, the later arrest, trial and execution of the two depraved killers.  The tremendous toll it took on Capote and his career is expertly analyzed.

        Bucqueroux continues teaching at MSU's School of Journalism where she served as coordinator of the Victims and Media Program.

        This is the first of 4 projected volumes; the next book will focus on Cleveland physician Sam Shepard, serial killer Donald Gene Miller and Unabomber Ted Kaczynski.

        For mor information, visit her website:

      Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop, 
has reviewed Michigan books and crime novels regularly since 1987. 

This review was originally published by the
Lansing State Journal on Sunday, September 2, 2012.